The dog had her puppies. I just thought I’d tell you. They are snuggled into a broken down piece of furniture outside of my landlord’s house. I saw them today at last. There are three of them, I think. It’s possible there are four.
There is a song I’ve become kind of addicted to since yesterday. It is Aisha by Outlandish, a remake of an old rai standard with different lyrics.
This happens to me sometimes, this obsession with a particular song. It seems to help me process.
There are new lyrics to this version, but the idea remains the same: it’s the idea of the unresponsive lover or of someone who isn’t a lover but the singer wishes she were. It is unrequited love.
I awake in the night crying and it seems to have to do with the idea behind the song. I am reminded first of C, who is currently ignoring my calls despite a promise not to. And, while I think I understand why she is doing this and I think it is not personal, it still hurts me.
So I think about that for a while, fall back asleep again, wake up in the morning sort of in the same groove.
One of the things I have found about this process is that it doesn’t really matter what detours my mind takes in the course of working things through. It does not matter if I am seeing C mistakenly as an unresponsive lover when she is neither a lover in my mind nor entirely unresponsive. Something happens if I am able to go anywhere at all, and I always end up ultimately in the right, correct, accurate place as though it has been destined by God. So I go with it.
I ponder it. I begin to think the ultimate in unrequited love is a dead body. A dead body doesn’t respond at all. My sadness is neither about C nor about rejection. It is about dead bodies. They seem to be unaware of you, unaware of your love for the person they once were. They are, in fact, unaware. They are unaware because they are dead. That is what being dead is all about. It is about no longer being sentient. Of anything, including someone’s love.
There are general themes in this process and there are very particular moments. There are particular moments that get repeated throughout different experiences. This is about holding Nata’s body after her death. It is about screaming her name and finding her unresponsive, insentient, dead. Completely dead.
It is a repeated moment. I stood over Nadia’s dead body too and it was also unresponsive. It lay in pieces I could not put together again and which could not answer me. I crouched over Laila’s dismembered corpse and it worked out in exactly the same way. I cried and her body did not assemble itself for me. It was like Humpty Dumpty. It could not be put together again. It could not put itself together. There was no longer any Laila to do it.
There is something repetitive about dead bodies. They are so different in life and so much the same in death. They only look different, but all of them lie there, unable to move or think or sense after death. That is what I was thinking about yesterday. Our uniqueness lies in our aliveness, not the difference in our eye colours or the length of our hair.
Anyway, it’s that moment of holding her and screaming and not being able to grasp the fact of her death. It is about the panic of being unable to revive her and also the sudden awareness of how alone I was. She had been first my best friend and then my partner for so much of my life, for almost as long as I could remember. She was both a lover and a sibling, someone who knew all about, who had a shared history and a shared life with me. And that sense of being severed from it was shocking.
Something else I have realized about this process too, in the course of it, is how reasonable everything starts to seem. Put it that way and, of course, it will seem that way. Of course, I will feel terrified that I cannot seem to rouse her or make her open the eyes that have been carved out of her head. Of course, I will be overwhelmed by this new and unfamiliar sense of myself: as someone facing life alone. As someone abruptly widowed, orphaned, solitary. Of course, that will feel both shocking and alarming and something I simply cannot bear.
Of course, I will feel there is no way to live without her. I have never really done it before. I was a kindergartener when I met her. I was five and a half. I have no real sense of myself of myself without her. It’s as though someone has come and removed half of my body. Who will I be now? I can’t imagine being anyone without her. Given the intensity of our situation, I imagine it is something like losing a twin.
Of course, I will wish I could die with her. There is nothing unusual about that. Plenty of people feel that way. At least in that moment.
Of course, I will feel I have made a mistake. I will feel guilty. Not just because everyone feels guilty when their loved one dies—almost no one dies because you intended them to. But because I made a particular mistake. She lied to me, I believed her. I gave her the information she needed to do whatever she did that got her killed.
Of course, I might even feel like punishing myself, because I will be angry I did something wrong. It was not my fault, but it will be reasonable to feel as though I did: this is a part of bargaining. If I punish myself, can I prevent the really bad thing from happening? Can I have a do-over. Bargaining is the do-over stage. It is the wishing stage, the hope for a different ending.
Of course, after that, I will feel scared of lies too. In my experience, lies kill people. They did once, anyway, very memorably, and I am unlikely to forget it even if the odds if it working out that way again are slim indeed.
So there is that.
When I miss C, that is what is what I am reminded of. I am reminded of that last moment with Nata, the moment I could never grasp. It hurt too much. I am only just now starting to grasp it after 29 years.
In the morning, I was watching the sky above the mountains outside. Most of my view out that window is gone now. The house they are building is standing in the way of most everything, but I can still see the mountain. I can see, not the sun rising, but the white glow of a sunrise that is just out of view. It struck me suddenly, painfully that it is so unfair.
This is something else that seems so reasonable. Yes, it is unfair. All of it is unfair. It is unfair that all of them are dead. It is unfair I lost my friends. It is unfair I had to live with the burden of their losses. It is unfair I had live without their support. It is deeply, profoundly unfair. That is why murder illegal. Because it is unfair. Murder robs the dead victim of her life and future, but it also robs others of the person they loved.
In the afternoon, I venture out for the first time in a week. I need to once again recharge my internet, and the shop downstairs has run out of vouchers. I head into the bazaar, and I am struck by the brilliance of the light on everything. In the winter here, the afternoon sun can be sparkling and beautiful in this way that I continue to not expect.
That makes me think too.
Life goes on. But it doesn’t go on as if the past didn’t happen. It goes on as if it did. And so what is going on for me is life after having lived very closely with death. It is not as though I have returned to the point before the deaths happened. Life has moved onto a point after they have happened. For me, a part of that will be—has to be—noticing that I am alive. They are dead and I am alive. I am going to keep noticing that until I am able to completely process it, which has to do with being able to feel and think together, at sort of the right intensity, an intensity that allows me to match thought and feeling and experience up, the way they are supposed to be matched up.
I lived through it. You don’t live through it after it has happened. For a long time, it goes on trying to replay itself in your mind. You live through it when the pieces get matched up, when you can grasp what happened and what it meant to you. You live through after you understand.
I am not there yet. I have a long way to go, but I have come a long way too.